Winter Carnival 2017: Upstairs and downstairs, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club offers lessons
February 5, 2017
Steamboat Springs — It was the competitive side of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club that first drew Todd Wilson into its orbit, the "Olympian Hall" side, if you will.
Olympian Hall, in the Howelsen Hill lodge, is decorated to celebrate Steamboat Springs' 88 Winter Olympians. Each Steamboat Olympic appearance is represented by a flag from the host nation of those Olympics, and now the flags have filled the rafters and overflown onto the walls.
Wilson was an aspiring ski jumper from Winter Park but soon outgrew the small jumping complex there. Coming to Steamboat Springs, with its larger hills, was natural. He logged plenty of hours on U.S. Highway 40 through his childhood traveling to Steamboat, and upon graduating high school, Wilson made the move permanent.
Those jumps helped propel him onto the U.S. Ski Team, where he enjoyed a nine-year career, and to two Winter Olympics.
"What was so special about the club was I could see from an early age the stepping stones to the world stage, and at an early stage, that was my calling, what I wanted to do," Wilson said. "The Winter Sports Club became a springboard for me to do that."
Wilson skied his last Olympics in 1992 in Albertville, France. Now as a coach with the club, he strives to keep those same avenues open.
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"I got to see the world, and that experience of traveling the world and competing as a high level athlete meant so much to me," he said. "I want to give back and make sure kids today have the same opportunities I did."
Somewhere along the way, between competing and coaching, the other side of the Winter Sports Club took hold of him.
If it was the upstairs Olympian Hall with its flags that brought Wilson in, it was the downstairs, the locker rooms and coaches offices, that kept him there.
After a decade competing, Wilson began a lifetime of coaching, guiding young skiers up and down those jumps that had inspired him.
While he certainly shepherded his fair share of Olympians through the club, onto the U.S. Ski Team and, in several cases, to the Olympic and World Championship podium, he said his work with other athletes, those who aren't destined for the "big" events, now drives him just as much.
"That's something since I've become a coach that's become very obvious to me," he said. "Really, the value in what the club does is not in any one individual's success. It's about the life lessons and how it teaches you the important things required to come successful.
"The same lessons to being successful are true in business or academics or anything else,” Wilson continued. “That's the magic of the Winter Sports Club. You don't have to be destined for athletic success. The lessons it can teach you are great and valuable no matter what you decide to do."
He said those lessons from the club are valuable no matter what an athletes future and no matter what brought them to the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club in the first place.